24 March, 2011

This speaks to me

Part of a much larger essay on zenpundit.com, quoting, of all people, Edward Said:

When you think about it, when you think about Jew and Palestinian not separately, but as part of a symphony, there is something magnificently imposing about it. A very rich, also very tragic, also in many ways desperate history of extremes — opposites in the Hegelian sense — that is yet to receive its due. So what you are faced with is a kind of sublime grandeur of a series of tragedies, of losses, of sacrifices, of pain that would take the brain of a Bach to figure out. It would require the imagination of someone like Edmund Burke to fathom.

[Said, Power, Politics and Culture, p. 447.]

I can't do it justice in this post. The whole thing is worth a look.

22 March, 2011

Good news on the rule of law

The Bush administration had considerable success in stopping review of its actions by claiming that those who couldn't prove they had been under surveillance, or otherwise affected by secret executive actions, had no standing to bring a case before the court.  The Obama administration, despite the candidate's pledge to stop this practice, has taken it and run with it.

At least in the area of warrantless eavesdropping there is some good news.  A unanimous three-judge appellate court has ruled, in a case involving political activists, that there is a reasonable fear of surveillance, and real harm.  They ruled that the plaintiffs' fear is reasonable given the sweeping powers the FISA law vests gives the president, and this allows them to challenge the constitutionality of the FISA Amendments

This is a note of sanity in response to an otherwise insane doctrine. Just because you do something in secret shouldn't mean that nobody can sue you over it.

For a more detailed analysis, see Glenn Greenwald in Salon.

21 March, 2011

Watch Yemen

A crisis in Yemen is rapidly escalating. A standoff centered on the presidential palace is taking place between security forces in the capital city of Sanaa while embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh continues to resist stepping down, claiming that the “majority of Yemeni people” support him. While a Western-led military intervention in Libya is dominating the headlines, the crisis in Yemen and its implications for Persian Gulf stability is of greater strategic consequence. Saudi Arabia is already facing the threat of an Iranian destabilization campaign in eastern Arabia and has deployed forces to Bahrain in an effort to prevent Shiite unrest from spreading. With a second front now threatening the Saudi underbelly, the situation in Yemen is becoming one that the Saudis can no longer leave on the backburner.

18 March, 2011

Dollar troubles

From The Telegraph:

US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner shocked global markets by revealing that Washington is "quite open" to Chinese proposals for the gradual
development of a global reserve currency run by the International Monetary Fund.

"The mere fact that the US Treasury Secretary is even entertaining
thoughts that the dollar may cease being the anchor of the global monetary
system has caused consternation," he said.

Mr Geithner later qualified his remarks, insisting that the dollar would
remain the "world's dominant reserve currency ... for a long period of
time" but the seeds of doubt have been sown.
The markets appear baffled by the confused statements emanating from
Washington. President Barack Obama told a new conference hours earlier that
there was no threat to the reserve status of the dollar.
Ambrose-Pritchard tends to raise alarms, even when unwarranted.  It seems like an odd thing for the Treasury Secretary to say (admit), though.  An unexpected attack of honesty?

What's in the neighborhood

Reuters has a good overview of NATO forces in the vicinity of Libya, here.